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The Value-Adding CFO

The CFO’s role is fast evolving, and more centred than ever around leadership and strategy. However, taking on a strategic role requires not just a broad skillset, but also the right mindset – one that involves continuous learning, agility and growth. J Kotteswari, Group CFO of Shriram Industrial Holdings Limited (Now SVL Ltd), strongly believes that it is the mandate of every CFO to support the CEO and senior management in all facets of their mission, including growth.



The draft Digital Personal Data Protection Bill (DPDP) recently closed for public comment. This is the 4th version of a law on data privacy and in key aspects, corrects for the over-reach of previous iterations. However, like the original draft, the new law will require businesses to re-examine their compliance structures. This paper looks at the key changes proposed by the DPDP in comparison to the previous bill – and their implications for businesses in India.

The Valuation Joke

A couple of years ago, a senior editor at a web-based publication approached an angel investor to seek funding for a new entrepreneurial venture that he had conceived. Admittedly, it was a unique concept but something that came with abnormal levels of uncertainties on whether it could be pulled off. The business was valued by some consultant at Rs 10 crores. The basis of valuation these days is not on tangibles that you can see and touch but rather on some airy notions of what future cash flows might look like. In the case of our editor, all that he had to show for this extraordinary asset value was a piece of paper, supposedly a business plan of sorts.

I’m sorry, but we’re done

The past few months have been catastrophic for tech employees as, between them, big techs have laid off over 200,000. These have come with the usual explanations of softening demand and the impending recession, expected later this year. Still, Microsoft recently announced its intent to invest USD 10 billion in OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT. Google, likewise, after reducing its workforce by 12,000 is directing billions to its own AI-powered response to ChatGPT. Amazon and Meta too have kept in sync with this trend of cost reduction. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, following the acquisition of Twitter, sacked more than half his workforce last year. His reasons were clear – those who refused to report to the office had to go.

Muddy Waters

Malaysia exports twice as much oil as it actually produces. Oil traders believe that some of this is Iranian, Venezuelan or, more recently, Russian crude, blended with local output and sold in international markets. The oil trade has over the years developed ways to defy Western sanctions and the process is now so well-greased that it is hard both to trace origins and prevent blockages. The latest addition to the ‘alternative supply chain’ is Russia, which came under western sanctions effective the 5th December 2022. The measures ban European imports of seaborne crude, and allow Russian ships to make use of the West’s logistics and insurance firms only if their cargo is priced below USD 60 a barrel. Despite this, Russian oil continues to flow legally and seamlessly across international borders.

Think Tank


Launched in 2015, Moglix was India’s first B2B e-Commerce platform serving the industrial sector. It entered the coveted Unicorn club within six years and ranks among the world’s biggest disruptors in this space today. A founder-driven company, Moglix offers valuable lessons on building the right business model, growth strategy and entrepreneurial culture. At a recent India CEO Forum session, Rahul Garg, the company’s founder and CEO, shared his journey of building the platform and provided an outlook for India’s evolving manufacturing sector.


Politicians and political parties are gearing up for state elections in 2023, which many believe will set the tone for the 2024 general elections. The odds of Prime Minister Narendra Modi winning a third consecutive term are high. Ergo, the BJP will have another term to pass pending legislation, introduce new policies and implement its vision for India. At a recent joint session of the India CEO and CFO Forums, Jyoti Malhotra, National and Strategic Affairs Editor at The Print, provided her journalistic insights on the current political dynamics at play in India. This paper captures the highlights from the session and the ensuing discussion.


Digital transformation has become critical in the post-pandemic era. Even though the term may evoke images of a process brimming with technological complexity, DT is as much a cultural shift. Given that a reorientation of the organisational culture is integral to it, CHROs are well-positioned to help facilitate such change. At a recent India CHRO Forum session in Bangalore, Pankaj Rai, Group Chief Data Analytics Officer at the Aditya Birla Group, shared his experience of driving transformation in large organisations.


IMA’s Q4FY23 (Jan-Mar) quarterly Business Confidence and Performance Index (BCPI) survey reveals an uptick in business optimism. At 62, the headline index rose by 5 points from Q3. (On each parameter, numbers above 50 indicate net optimism, while those below 50 suggest net pessimism.) The macroeconomy index has climbed to 53.7, pulling out of ‘bear territory’. The business expectations index is up 3.8 points to 65.6, and capex intent has also improved by 2 points, to ~62. At a recent joint online session of the India CEO, CFO, CMO and CHRO Forums, we presented the headline results from the latest edition of the BCPI. This set the context for an open-house discussion and a sharing of industry-level experiences.


Over the long term, the rupee has depreciated by an average of 3-4% a year against the dollar. Like any EM currency, it has had periods of stability interspersed with volatility. In recent times, rising economic uncertainty, coupled with fast-shifting geopolitical dynamics, has impacted interest rate differentials and thereby the rupee. At a recent India CFO Forum session in Bangalore, Neeraj Gambhir, Group Executive, Treasury, Markets and Wholesale Banking Products, Axis Bank, decoded the factors behind the rupee’s movements, provided a medium-term outlook for the currency and presented the options before CFOs.


India’s place in the global hierarchy has shifted in recent years, owing to external rivalries and a shift in India’s own approach to foreign policy. Political questions are increasingly being answered through economics, with nationalism going hand-in-hand with protectionism. How should India navigate the emerging phenomenon of ‘deglobalisation’, and what impact will this have on businesses? At a recent joint session of the India CEO and CFO Forums in Pune, Harsh Pant, Professor of International Relations at King’s College London and Vice President – Studies and Foreign Policy at Observer Research Foundation, articulated how geopolitical trends are likely to shape up in 2023, and their likely impact on India’s business environment.


ChatGPT, also known as ‘Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer’, is the latest breakthrough in the field of Artificial Intelligence. Although AI tools have been available for some time, the launch of ChatGPT in late 2022 has revolutionised the possibilities of AI for almost everyone.

Developed by OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI language model that can generate human-like text based on the input it is given. It has been trained on a massive corpus of text data, consisting of hundreds of terabytes. With an easy-to-use interface, ChatGPT quickly gained ‘1 million users’ within just five days of its launch, making it the fastest-growing internet application in history.